“What Dr. Martin Luther King Means to Me” Hormel Essay Contest Winners

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Gaston Elementary student Siniya Streeter was, “What Dr. Martin Luther King Means to Me.

By Avery Lewis — Increscent Writer

Winners and Runner-Up’s

Elizabeth Cortez, Azariah Burnett, Heiler Flores-Ramirez and Jocelyn Barrera were also recognized as runners-up at an all school assembly.

“This is one of our (Positive Behavior Intervention Support) PBIS assemblies,” explained Principal Brandye Hereford, adding these are held quarterly and the recent event involved a partnership with Beloit’s Hormel Foods. Two Hormel representatives, Eve Reeves and Andrew Newton, are a part of Hormel’s African-American Resource Group (HARG) and approached Gaston about holding the essay competition, according to Hereford.

“Every year, [HARG] tries to reach out to different elementary schools in different school districts in areas all across the United States where Hormel is located,” said Reeves, a quality control supervisor. “So I reached out to Gaston.”

A Powerful Assembly

The recent assembly kicked off with students being recognized for their efforts in areas such as art, reading, music and outstanding behavior. Then, the four third graders recognized for their essays were called to the front of the gym. After Newton and Reeves talked about the importance of Dr. Martin Luther King, they announced the runners-up. Following, they named Streeter as the winner. With her mother watching from the back, Streeter read her essay to the school. All four students received gift certificate to Subway.

“Thanks to Martin Luther King Jr., we can go to the same restaurants, and we can eat together, and we can walk down the street together, and we can go to the same schools, and we can move anywhere, and we share, and we care about each other,” Streeter read.

“It feels good because I didn’t know I was going to win,” Streeter said afterward. “I learned that Martin Luther King is really important because he helped stop segregation and we wouldn’t be at the same place right now [without him].”

Love and Pride

Streeter’s mother was very emotional and proud of her daughter’s achievements.

“It means the world to me,” said a tearful Sabrina Awal. “I was coming in here today saying that if she didn’t win I would still be happy for her and clapping for her..”

The third graders who participated in the essay competition go to an after-school program at Gaston called Community Learning Centers (CLC). Rebecca Albert and Julie Mitchell are teachers who run the program. They work with students on literacy and math and incorporate fun activities into the learning.

“We had some really good conversations,” Mitchell explained. “At this grade, to make that connection before you take it out to what it is in the community and the world, you’ve got to start with yourself.”


For more information:

Brandye HerefordPrincipal | Gaston Elementary 
Brandye Hereford

Phone: 361-2310